tv Altered Genes Twisted Truth CSPAN October 1, 2017 7:30am-9:01am EDT
book fairs and festivals around the country. in october we all live for two days of talks of the southern festival of books in nashville. later in october there are two books on the same weekend, in thenortheast it's the ninth annual boston book festivaland in the south , the louisiana book festival will take place in baton rouge and in november the wisconsin book festival in
>> as well as many other topics at the commonwell club, and i invite you to check our web site for a complete listing of e vebls. call the club's 24-hour reservation line. steven druer's book will be for sale in the lobby after this program, and he'll be happy to sign the book. also for if you have any friends who wanted to hear this program and were unable to, the podcast should be online in about a day. c-span is here to record it for tv, and he's speaking again
thursday in palo alto at the coverly community center. if you want to find out more about that, go to the silicon valley health institute, svhi.org -- svhi.com, i believe, to find out more information. but that'll be a good place if you want go there as well. in terms of questions, i put out question cards on all the seats, and what i'd like you to do is when you fill the question cards out, pass them to the aisle, and then pass them up. i'll be sitting here, that way i won't have to go down the aisle and block the cameras while they're recording this. okay. so now i will start the program for the -- officially. [inaudible conversations] greetings and welcome to today's meeting of the commonwealth club
of california. i am bill grant, co-chair of the member-led forum and chair of this program. it is my great pleasure to introduce steven druker, a public interest attorney who initiated a lawsuit against the u.s. food and drug administration that revealed the agency had covered up its own scientists' warns about the risks of genetically-engineered foods and then misrepresented the facts. he has served at conferences conducted by the national research council and the fda, spoken at numerous universities including harvard, columbia and cornell and met with the heads of food safety for the u.k., canada, france, ireland and australia. mr. druker received his law degree from uc-berkeley where he was elected to both the california law review and the legal honor society. his articles on genetically-engineered field have appeared in several respected publications including
the financial times. his influential book, "alter ld genes, twisted truth: how the venture to genetically-engineer our food has corrupted government," was released in march 2015 with a forward by jane good awl -- goodall. among the other scientists who have praised et is david schubert, a professor at the institute for biological studies who has called it incisive, insightful and truly outstanding n. 2017 he received the luxembourg peace prize. mr. druker. [applause] >> thank you very much. i appreciate the opportunity to speak with such a great organization, and i'd like to
begin by asking you to tell me what you would think or what would you think if at the snap of my fingers everybody in the world suddenly, instand instanty became aware of all the facts about genetically-engineered foods, and everybody's opinions became aligned with our very best scientific knowledge. well, if we adhere to the routine rhetoric of the proponents of these products, we would have to predict that such a worldwide wave of enlightenment would quickly cause all opposition to them to vanish. because in the rendition of realitying that they propound, all of the opposition has been based in ignorance, and all of the concerns about risks are just due to an improper understanding of science. but in reality, in this world we
actually inhabit, the phenomenon that would quickly vanish is not the opposition to the foods, but the foods themselves. that's right, if the actual facts became widely known, the entire genetically-engineered food venture would quickly collapse. and that is why despite the pretensions about wanting to educate the public, the proponents of genetically-engineer foods have routinely suppressed or distorted critical facts. my book documents case after case in which eminent scientists and institutions have stooped to deception in order to enable the g.e. food venture to advance. basic facts of biology have been twisted. the process of creating genetically-engineered foods have been made to appear far less disruptive and far more precise than it actually is.
and false statements have consistently been issued about the tests on these foods to cover up troubling results. further, the evidence that demonstrates the distorsion of the evidence -- distortion of the evidence is solid, and its solidity has been attested by many experts. for instance, a professor emeritus of agricultural economics at the university of missouri has stated that the evidence presented in my book is comprehensive and irrefutable. and the molecular biologist david i schubert, a professor at the institute for biological studies, has hailed the book as sign terrifically -- scientifically solid and outstanding. it dispels the cloud of misinformation that has misled people into believing that g.e. foods have been adequately tested and don't entail abnormal risk.
moreover, the irrefutable fact that the facts have been routinely misrepresented is in itself concrete evidence of how strongly the evidence weighs against the soundness of the g.e. food venture. because if the evidence were truly supportive of the venture's safety, there would have been no need to distort it. and i think that's a no-brainer. if the facts are on your side, you're not afraid of them. in fact, you're proud of them, and it's your joy and privilege to clearly present them. it's only when the facts weigh against you that you resort the trickery. during the next 25 minutes, i'll point out some of the key distortions and falsehoods and clear up the confusion they've created. in the process, it will become evident that there are strong, science-based reasons for reaching four basic conclusions. producing new foods through
recombinant dna technology -- which is the technical term for genetic engineering -- is an inherently risky process. two, every genetically-engineered food poses an abnormal level of risk. three, the safety of those on the market has never been adequately established. and, four, some of them have already been shown to be harmful. finish -- i will also explain how the g.e. food venture is not only abnormally risky from the standpoint of biological science, but outright reckless when viewed from the perspective of computer science and how the biotechnicians have utterly disregarded the hard-learned lessons that computer science has gained about the inherent risks of altering complex information systems. let's first examine one of the
biggest falsehoods that's been perpetrated in defense of g.e. foods, the routine assertion that there's an overwhelming consensus that they're safe and that this consensus is based on extensive scientific evidence. indeed, the strength of this purported consensus is claimed to be on a par with the degree of expert consensus about the reality of human-induced climate change. however, although there truly is a genuine expert consensus in the case of climate change, there has never been one in regard to g.e. foods, and whereas every group of experts that has examined the data related to climate change has reached a common conclusion, many well-credentialed experts have raised cautions about g.e. foods, and several respected scientific institutions have done so as well. for instance, in 2001 the royal society of canada issued a major report concluding, a, that the
default prediction for each g.e. food should be that the genetic alteration has induced unintended and potentially harmful side effects and, b, that it is scientifically unjustifiable -- those were their words -- to regard any g.e. food as safe unless its safety has been established through a course of testing far more rig crouse than -- rigorous than any regulators have yet required. that report has never been revised, nor refuted, and it is as relevant today as when it was fest issued. -- first issued. the british medical association and the editors of the lancet have also expressed concerns about the risks, and the public health association of steal ya has recently called for -- australia has recently called for a complete moratorium on the planting and marketing of g.e. foods. the scientists and experts at the fda have likewise recognized
that g.e. foods entail abnormal risks. this fact came to light in 1998 when my organization, the alliance for biointegrity, led a lawsuit that pelled the fka -- compelled the fda to hand over more than 44,000 of internal papers including a number of memos from the agency's own scientists expressing concerns about the unusual risks of the genetic engineering process and the need for all the foods it produces to undergo rigorous safety testing that's capable of detecting the potential harmful side effects. the pervasiveness of the concerns is attested by an fda official who studied the expert input and declared, quote: the processes of genetic engineering and traditional breeding are different and according to the technical experts in the agency, they lead to different risks. moreover, the fda's own
biotechnology coordinator acknowledged there was not a consensus about safety in the scientific community outside the agency either. however, the fda has an admitted agenda to foster biotechnology. and when it issues its policy in may of 1992 after having received all that input, it claimed that it was the not aware of any information showing that foods derived by genetic engineering differ from any other foods in uniform or meaningful way. it also asserted there was overwhelming consensus among scientists that g.e. foods are so safe they don't need to be tested at all even though it knew no such consensus existed. accordingly, the fda's not required even a midge john of -- smidgen of safety testing. if the fda had disclosed the extensive concerns of its own
experts, the subsequent history of the gm e. venture would surely have been very different and might well have been very short. at the least, every -- any g.e. food that did reach the market would have been subjected to much more rigorous testing than regulators anywhere in the world have yet required. so that's one claim. what about the oft-repeated claim that no ingestible product of genetic engineering has ever been linked the a human health problem? well, that's also baloney, starkly at odds with reality. in fact, the technology's very first ingestible product caused a major epidemic. it ill killed does -- it killed dozens of americans, hundreds of people are still invalids to this day.
that product was a food supplement of the essential amino acid -- [inaudible] that had been derived from genetically-alteredded bacteria. although it met the standards for pharmacological tourty, like all -- purity, it contained minute amounts of impurities. however, unlike the conventionally produced supplements, one or more of its accidental additions was highly toxic even at extremely low levels. because none of the supplements produced via non-engineered back tier ya had -- bacteria had ever been linked to disease and because genetic engineering can create unintended disruptions within organisms, there were legitimate reasons to suspect that the engineering process had induced the formation of the extraordinarily toxic substance that caused the calamity. consequently, the proponents of genetic engineering strove to convince the public that the
technology was blameless. but to do so, they had to issue a string of deceptive statements. those deceptions have been so successful that despite the fact the evidence points to genetic engineering as the most likely cause of the toxic contamination, most people who know of this tragedy are under the illusion that the technology has been completely exonerated. worse, because g. event proponents -- g.e. proponents routinely claim none of its products has ever been linked to a health problem, most people aren't even aware such a catastrophe happened. that includes most professionals within public health to whom i've spoken, completely unaware of a major epidemic right here in the united states. it's important to note that the toxic incident has serious implications for all foods produced through genetic
engineering. those bacteria had not been alteredded with foreign genes; rather, they were merely endowed with extra copies of some of their own, and they were not engineering -- engineered to produce anything other than a beneficial substance theyrd theirly make. but the forced overproduction of this normally benign substance apparently put abnormal stress on those organisms that led to the creation of an unintended and highly toxic by-product. and almost every genetically-engineered food-yielding organism is being compelled to overproduce one or another chemical x. for that reason alone, poses an unusual risk. now, the standard claim that the safety of g.e. foods has been thoroughly established by reliable testing cannot survive scrutiny either. especially considering that many well-conducted studies published in peer-reviewed journals have
detected harm to the animals that consume g.e. food. in fact, in 2009 a systematic review of the toxicological studies on g.e. foods that was itself published in a career-reviewed journal concluded that the results of most of them indicate that the products, quote: may cause pancreatic, renal and reproductive effects and may alter hematological, biochemical and immune logic parameters, the significance of which remains unknown, unquote. another review that encompassed the additional studies that had been published up until august 2010 also provided cause for caution. it concluded there was an equilibriumen between the urge groups suggesting the g.e. crops are as safe as their non-g.e. counterparts and those still raising serious concerns. now, obviously, the fact that more than 15 years after g.e.
foods had first entered the market half the published studies on them raised serious concerns in the eyes of objective scientific reviewers undermines the claim that their safety has been decisively established, and this conclusion is fortified when we examine some of the specific results that accrued both before and after that date. for instance, a team of european university scientists published a paper in 2011 in which they reviewed the data from 19 of the feeding studies on g.e., soy and corn varieties that had already gone through the regulatory process, were on the market and comprised 83% of the g.e. foods that people had been regularly eating. what they found was disturbing. 9% of the measured parameters including blood and urine biochemistry and organ weights were significantly disrupted in the animals that had eaten the g.e. feed.
moreover, the greatest disturbances were to the kidneys of the males and the livers of the females. and the scientists emphasized that because livers and kidneys are the major reactive organs in cases of chronic food toxicity, these results should be viewed as danger signs, something the regulators had not seen fit to do. furthermore, when the negative results are so disturbing they cannot be ignored, they're vehemently attacked and the research is routinely misrepresented. a prominent role in this misinformation campaign had hasn played by the u.k.'s royal society, the world's oldest and most prestigious scientific institution. for example, the society recently declared that no research has indicated that the genetic engineering process itself has caused any harm and that all problems have been attributed either to the specific gene introduced or to
particular agricultural practices. but this assertion is flat out false. one major studied specifically link the g.e. process with harm. it was published in the eminent journal the lancet, and it revealed that g.e. potatoes producing a foreign protein that's safe for animals to eat caused a problematic effect in the rats that consumed them compared to the rats that ate the non-g.e. counterparts. even though the non-g.e. potatoes had been spiked with the same level of foreign protein that was produced within the modified potatoes. accordingly, the researchers concluded that some aspect of the g.e. process itself was significantly responsible for the result because they had ruled out the other possible factors. so it is only through the systematic misrepresentation of the facts by respected institutions and individuals and
their willingness to disregard the ominous implications of the evidence that the g.e. food venture has been able to continue, and this disgraceful activity is being carried out in the name of science when it is actually subverting the basic principles of science. the extent to which the g.e. food venture has failed to be evidence-based and instead has rested on the denial and disregard of the evidence has been vividly summarized by michael antonio, a molecular geneticist at kings college london school of medicine. if the kind of debt limittal -- detrimental effects were observed in a clinical setting, the product's use would be halted and further research ins gated -- instigated to determine the cause and find solutions. however, what repeatedly happens in the case of g.e. food is that despite increasing evidence of serious adverse health test
results, government and industry continue unabated with the development, endorsement and marketing of these foods as if nothing has happened to the point they even seem to ignore the results of their own research. so even this short summary has revealed that from the standpoint of biological science that g.e. food venture is significantly unsound. and when it's analyzed from the standpoint of computer science, the picture becomes even more troubling. such an analysis is highly relevant because both genetic demeanorring and computer science are engaged in altering complex information systems, and computer science has learned a lot about the risks of making such alterations. moreover, it has learned that these risks are inescapable,
inescapable. software engineers have learned that when the information systems they themselves have created become large and complex, there's no way to alter them with complete precision. even when the alteration is a small refinement designed to improve the system's performance, the mere process of revising it is such an ostensibly minuscule manner is very likely to disrupt one or more of its other parts. this is an amazing phenomenon. software systems are designed to be linear which means they're structured so that a specific operation only produces a specific result. operation x should only produce y. however, despite the programmers best efforts, their systems transcend the intended hims and, to a significant degree, behave in a nonlinear manner. there's a high likelihood that
some of the parts will interact in ways that were not planned and cannot be predicted which means operation x will not only yield y, but might also generate x and z. consequently, to reduce the potential for unintended interactions, software designers separate components that shouldn't interact and try to insulate them from such interaction. what they try to avoid is creating code that resembles a plate of spaghetti. okay? because in -- they want to avoid writing a what they call spaghetti code, a program in which the components are complexly interactive and you can't really work on one without jostling around some of the other ones. now, what they instead aim to create is ravioli code, and they call this ravioli code. they try to design systems in which the components that aren't supposed to interact are as
independent from one another as the packets of cheese and vegetable in packets of pasta. even though programmers have succeeded in designing systems far more analogous to a plate of ravioli than a pound of spaghetti and have reduced the potential for unintended interactions, they have not been able to eliminate it. such unwanted results continue to happen. before examining how these risks are dealt with, let's compare the characteristics of human-design ised information systems -- designed information systems with those of bioinformation systems. let's compare man made software with nature's software. as i notedded, human-made systems are designed to be linear. and although they unavoidably become linear to some degree, they for the most part function as linear systems. but the situation is very different in the case of bioinformation systems.
they are inherently nonlinear. the various parts of intricately interconnected and every action can create a wide range of effects, many of which cannot be predicted. now, in their endeavor to maximize manageability, software engineers avoid creating spaghetti code. spaghetti code is avoided. but bioinformation systems are the most extreme instances of spaghetti code, and even if a human being had been able to create them, he or she could not adequately comprehend the various interactions. moreover, despite the substantial knowledge we humans have gaped about the workings -- gained about the workings of bioinformation systems, the extent to which our understanding remains deficient should be profoundly humbling. in human-designed system, the rules governing how the parts interact are clearly expressed
in written form but only a small practice of the rules of bioinformation systems are known, and most of those pertain to the mechanics of gene expression. yet as numerous experts have emphasized, many of the most important rules don't operate at the level of the genes. for instance, richard strohmen at the university of california-berkeley inserted that the most important rules operate at a level higher than the genes, the level in which the genes are organized into what he called functional arrays. he noted this level of management is not confined within the dna, but is co-extensive with the cell itself. moreover, the dynamics operating at this level are different than the ones operating at the lower level and that the interactions are far more complex to the extent that they are ultimately transcalculational.
which, as he noted, is a mathematical term for mind boggling. [laughter] several other experts have also pointed out that bioinformation systems transcend dna and ultimately extend throughout the entire organism while also extending far beyond our comprehension. in addition to the vast differences in the degree to which humans understand how the two types of systems operate, there are also glaring differences in how they make revisions to them. software engineers insert new code precisely where they want it without accidentally disrupting the way in which other code is written. further, no unintended code enters the system. in contrast, bioengineers have been inserting dna haphazardly. their insertions have disrupted
sections of native dna, and unintended pieces of dna have almost always entered as well. so revisions that are disruptive in the case of the human-design ised systems, the revisions through genetic engineering are 'em precise and highly disruptive -- imprecise. so in light of these enormous differences, it would be reasonable to think that genetic engineers should exercise far greater caution than do software engineers. but the unfortunate reality is they exercise far less, shockingly less. software engineers recognize the inescapable risks of altering complex information systems, and they deal with them responsibly. accordingly, when they revise programs, they rue teakly conduct -- routinely conduct tests. moreover, there's a special class of software for which the testing is extremely rigorous.
it's called life-critical software. software that can cause loss of life if it malfunctions. examples of the programs that govern pacemakers and x-ray machines and the ones that serve as airplane guidance systems. in the u.s. and the european union, not only are such programs required to undergo strict testing before they're allowed on the market, they also must be rigorously tested anytime they're revised no matter how minor the revision. the regulators will not accept arguments that the revised program is substantially equivalent to the former version. instead, there must be a demonstration of safety achieved via systematic, stringent testing. but there's a glaring contrast in how risks are handled when disruptive alterations are made to the biggest, most complex and yet least understoodinformation
systems on our planet. the biotechnicians don't adequately acknowledge the risks and largely deny then. even the regulate arers assume there's little need for rigorous testing. the united states food and drug administration claims that g.e. foods are so safe, they don't need to be tested at all. and although regulators in the e.u. and most other regions have required some testing, it's been minimal. for almost 20 years, g.e. foods were allowed on world wild markets based solely on some superficial showing of substantial equivalence to the conventional counterparts, something that is never allowed in the case of life-critical software despite the fact that a toxic tomato could cause far more human harm than a malfunctioning x-ray machine. and although the e.u. has finally required safety testing with the whole food, the tests are still remarkably lax by software standards.
even if g.e. foods were compelled to undergo the same testing that's mandated for new pharmaceutical drugs, it would still far short of the level of rigor that's required when changes are made to life-critical software rams. so again -- programs. so again, with human-designed information systems, small revisions to life-critical systems are presumed to entail substantial risk. rigorous testing is required. bioinformation systems, major revisions to life-critical systems, are presumed to be essentially safe, lax requirements, lax testing. moreover, as my book demonstrates if the kind of rigor that's required in software testing were mandated for g.e. foods, the entire venture would implode. consequently, even this simple
technology sometimes doesn't function properly. [laughter] consequently, it is incurably risky. now, you might be wondering -- i still scratch my head about it -- you might be wondering how the people promoting genetic engineering could remain so oblivious to the risks of altering complex information systems. and the big part, a big part of the answer is quite simple. they initially failed to appreciate that they were even dealing with intricate, highly coordinated information systems. and this constricted outlook has hung on and significantly colored all their subsequent thinking. oh, excuse me. i went too far. we'll come to that. that was a preview of coming attractions. [laughter] as strange as it may seem to us now, when the genetic engineering venture first began in the 1970s, its practicers
presume that genes act independently, that they're not arranged in an organized manner and that the sequence in which they occur is essentially unimportant. it's been called the bean bag theory of the genome. you have a bean bag, you shake it up. all the positions of the beans change, you've still got the bean bag. it doesn't matter what position they're in. that's the way the genome was viewed by the no lek hour march -- molecular biologists, and even well into the '80s, even well into the '90s, even after that, those presumptions were decisively refuted they hung on. actually, let me go into those presumptionings a little more -- presumptions a little more. based on that bean bag theory, that very constrict understanding of the genome, they presume that the genome is a simple linear system which the action of a single gene will not significantly impact the others and won't disrupt their normal function. that's because they felt that
the genes act independently, the kind of independent agents not acting in a highly coordinated manner. so this, this is summarized by denise caruso, a veteran technology reporter for "the new york times" in an article that was published july 1, 2007. she stated: the presumption that genes operate independently has been institutional institutionalized since 1976 when the first biotech company was founded. in fact, it is the economic and regulatory foundation on which the entire biotechnology industry is built. together, these two presumptions supported the belief that a chunk of recombinant dna could be wedged into a plant's genome without indeucing disturbance -- inducing disturbance because of the behavior of the related genes was largely uncoordinated
and their arrangement was irrelevant, no important patterns could be perturbed. accordingly, they engendered confidence in the precision of genetic engineering by implying results would be consistently predictable. however, these influential assumptions -- which provided the ideological foundation for a colossal endeavor to transform agriculture -- have been decisively discredited. abundant evidence has demonstrated there is a high degree of coordination between genes and that their arrangement is highly organized. and this evidence undermines the claims about the safety of yes genetic engineering. thus, in her previously mentioned new york times article, denise caruso asserted ed of a network genome shatters the scientific basis for virtually every risk assessment of today's biotech products from genetically-engineered crops to pharmaceuticals. now, it's important to emphasize
that caruso's comments were made without even taking the evidence from computer science into consideration. so when that powerful body of knowledge is additionally taken into account, it's clear that the g.e. food venture is not only seriously unsound, but downright reckless. but what about the new modes of manipulating genomes such as crisper cass9 that are more precise than the former versions of genetic engineering? well, from the standpoint of computer science, the answer still has to be no. no, they're more precise is, but they're certainly not precise enough. these techniques can produce accidental, off-target effects.
further, as is the case with the previous modes of genetic engineering, in order to transform the alteredded plant cells into seed-bearing plants, something has to be done. now, this is very important. the genetic engineers are not working with fertile seeds, they can't. not at statement, and they won't -- not at this stage, and they probably won't be able to. they're genetically engineering cells. now, even if they end up with the genetic manipulation, the genetic alteration they want, they don't have -- those cells can't be put into the ground and grown into a plant. so a very unnatural process referred to as tissue culture has to be employed in which a series of hormone, plant hormones and newt rahtives are added, and the plant grows in -- that cell will, can be coaxed, actually forced to grow into a mature plant, but the process
through which that happens is not precisely the same as the process through which a seed will grow into a mature plant. and, in fact, it's a disruptive process. tissue culture is known to be highly mutagenic. in fact, it's been used just to create mutations in order to see if they could find something good. and some scientists have referred to the effects that it has on the organism as a genomic shock. it imparts a genomic shock. so no matter how precise the crisper technology had been on the upside -- technology can be on the upside, on the manipulation side, as long as they're going to have to use tissue culture to get their creation into a plant, there's no way they can claim it's precise. it's highly mutagenic. and it's very irresponsible to ignore tissue culture. and most promoters of g.e. foods always -- they try to pretend it doesn't exist, it's not part of the process.
it is part of the process in almost every case. so really another level of misrepresentation. so from the standpoint of computer science, the process of producing new agricultural plants by utilizing these new techniques is, in its entirety, imprecise and inherently risk-laden, and the plants must be rigorously tested. thus, if we cut through the promotional propaganda that's been passed off as science and we carefully examine genetic engineering in the light of our best scientific knowledge, knowledge accrued both from biological science and from computer science, it becomes clear that the g. ovum venture is incurably risky and that the risks are unacceptable
especially when safe, sustainable and well-proven alternatives are readily available. thank you very much. [applause] >> thank you. we're listening to steven druker, and now it's time for audience questions. i've prepared a few here, but i'd like other people to write your questions out and pass them up to the front here. >> okay. >> the first question is which foods sold in the united states are yes genetically engineered. [laughter] and the short answer is far too many. [laughter] because even though a fairly small number of crops relative to the vast number of food crops
out there have been genetically engineered and reached the market to date, because they're major foods that appear as ingredients in most processed foods, to date we'd say in the united states it's been estimated that between 85 and 90% of all processed food -- that means food that you'll buy in a package -- contain one or another eningredient derived from a gmo, a genetically-modified organism. so the main genetically- genetically-engineered organisms on the market in north america, it's not just the united states, it's also canada. canada has these crops on the market, no labeling. the canadian regulators are almost as bad as the fda, which is saying a lot. on genetically-engineered foods they're unscientific. so corn, which is more commonly referred to as maize in most other parts of the world, soy,
well over 90% of the north american soy and corn crop have been yes genetically engineered. think of how many different foods, iningredients soy and corn appear in. and canola, canola seeds have been genetically engineered, most of the canadian crop. again, canola oil appeared in many products and many products that purport to be health foods because they think that canola oil is better than some other kind of oil. but if it's not certified gmo-free, which very little of it is, then it's got -- it's probably been genetically engineered. a significant proportion of the hawaiian papaya crop has been genetically engineered. a very substantial portion of the sugar beet crop in the united states has been genetically engineered which means if you're eating a product that says sugar but doesn't say cane sugar, then it's most likely cane sugar, and that in
turn is most likely to have been genetically engineered. the alfalfa which many of you might think, well, that's not really a problem for me, actually it is. especially if you try to eat organic dairy products. because during winter months, organic alfalfa is one of the main food stuffs that organic dairy farmers feed their cattle. and alfalfa cross-pollinates to a very large degree and, therefore, there's senate risk of cross -- significant risk of cross-pollination contamination of organic alfalfa by the genetically-engineered alfalfa. there are probably some others. those are really, those are the big ones. actually, this is a shocker. zucchini. many years ago a virus-resistant genetically-engineered version of zucchini was created. but then most of us were told that it really didn't make it
into the market very much, maybe only a few percentage, a little, small, very small percentage of the zucchini was affected and most of that really left the market. and then a few years ago reliable sources began telling us, well, actually it appears now that far more zucchini, genetically-engineered zucchini permeated the market than was initially thought, and chances are that anywhere between 10 and 25% of it could be. now, that's pretty significant. again, i don't have all the verification. but that's the trouble, we don't know. it's not labeled. the fda doesn't even require, get this, the fda doesn't even require a manufacturer to inform it before it dumps a genetically-engineered food on the market. so the fda has even acknowledged it doesn't know for sure all the gmos that are on our market because it's actually gone out of its way to stay ignorant as much as it can. that's why we don't really know. we're, to a large extent -- we, meaning the consumers in the
united states and in canada -- are, have to a large extent been left in the dark, and the system was purposely designed to keep us in the dark without labeling, you know, with very inadequate information. most of the so-called information that's been sent to the consumers has been disinformation, and it's been very, very effective. >> which countries ban g.e. crops. i am not up-to-date on that. most european unions, most countries in the european union do not permit the planting of genetically-engineered crops. things may have shifted, so that's one area i'm not completely up-to-date on. as far as the planning, there's a major push going on by the european biotech industry, by the european commission, by some national governments, especially
the u.k. government, to try to get genetically engineered crops approved for growing. and there's a lot of consumer resistance. so that's going to be interesting, to see how that plays out. but there are some countries that really are trying to be very strong g.e.-free zones. i believe austria and hungary and the european union, in europe are two of the strongest. but here's a very interesting fact. even though gmos really can't be grown in most european regions and even though they have been approved for marketing for the human food supply, several of them have been approved, but it's consumer resistance that have essentially kept them off the shelves. because in the event -- in the event u., any foods that contain ingredients from genetically-engineered foods have to be labeled and, therefore, the major retailers
don't want to be involved because they know that the consumers in europe are much more educated about the risks than the consumers in north america. one reason is that the european media back in the earlier days actually reported on some of the early studies that showed problems whereas there was pretty much a media blackout here in north america. so that goes a long way to attributing the difference in consumer attitude. but i think about as early as 2000, maybe even before, there was so much resistance among consumer groups in the with european union -- certainly wasn't everybody, but it was enough that the food manufacturers and especially the major food distributers realized putting these foods out is not going to be a good marketing. and they made it very clear to the biotech industry and to the farmers we're not going to carry it, so that made a major change. so consumer power is very important. i'm mentioning that because
enough, if enough consumers in the u.s. and in canada become more informed and begin to vote with their pocketbook, the industry, the food industry takes note of that. in fact, it doesn't take a very big shift in consumer habits to make the food industry make a shift. you don't have to even have 50%. i think the thing is it can be as small as 5 or 10% shift. that can make a big difference and make one brand no longer carried, no longer viable. so i'm mentioning this because informed consumers have great power, the power of the pocketbook. oh, i do want to say there's a major loophole in europe, and that is that genetically-engineer soy or corn or cotton seed cakes that are fed to the farm animals, the ultimate consumer product -- the
meat, the milk, the eggs -- they don't have to be labeled. so that's a huge, i wouldn't even call it a loophole, you know? i'd call it a huge hole in the wall. and, therefore, europeans, consumers who often think, oh, we haven't been eating gmos, they've been eating products derived from gmo-fed animals. and the head of the center for veterinary medicine at the u.s. food and drug administration in his memo written on his behalf and the behalf of the other, the numerous other scientists at the center for veterinary medicine stated that he and his colleagues viewed feeding farm be animals high doses of genetically-engineered crops -- which happens -- and then feeding the resulting meat and milk and eggs to humans raised unique human food safety problems, and they thought there should be very careful testing of that situation, but there hasn't been such testing. what health effects arise from
eating g.e. corn, soybeans, etc. i hope i got that right. and, well, we don't know fully what with health effects have been happening because there hasn't been good testing going on. we know people have been getting sick in the united states, that illnesses keep increasing. we know many illnesses have been increasing, you know, you can kind of correlate the introduction of genetically-engineered foods and the increased use of the herbicides that have gone up in use because so many of the genetically-engineered crops have been engineered to be tolerant to applications of herbicide that would otherwise kill them and will kill everything else, just about everything else that's green in the surroundings except maybe the jolly green giant. he's pretty tough. but we don't really know. we do know the kinds of -- there have been, as i said, liver and kidney toxicity that have been determined to have been induced
in rats that ate genetically-engineered crops. we've seen other kinds of problems as well. but you have to consider the case of tobacco, okay? even as late as 1962 people could have claimed there is no evidence that smoking cigarettes has caused any harm to human beings. and at that point, there wasn't any sold epidemiological evidence yet. it hadn't been published. epidemiological studies have been underway for many years, but it wasn't til, i think, around 1963 or '64 that they were published and there was enough evidence that then the surgeon general required warnings. then we knew there was cause and effect. but it's -- and look at the differences. tobacco had been smoked for a lot longer than genetically-engineered foods, and people who were smoking cigarettes or cigars knew that they were, okay? and they knew when they started. and they knew on average how
many cigarettes or cigars they'd been smoking per month. does anyone here know precisely when he or she ingested the fist yes netically-engineered food -- genetically-engineered food and what it was, and have you been keeping a list of the different gmos and different concentrations? of course not, they're not labeled. so i've spoken on panels with epidemiologists, and they all agree it would be well nigh impossible at this stage to even conduct epidemiological studies on gmo foods in north america, it just couldn't be done. and it was planned to be that way, okay? for one reason, the manufacturers can avoid liability a lot more easily. but look how long it took even in the case of tobacco to finally start getting lawsuits, you know, judgments and monetary awards against the tobacco companies. even with that think how difficult -- again, well nigh impossible -- it would be to prove that somebody was injured by a particular gmo when there's
so many out there and, again, the burden of proof would be very, very immense. and that's why our food safety laws are precautionary. here in the united states we have the strictest precautionary laws when it comes to food additives, and those laws cover the additives that are being added through genetic engineering. we have the strictest laws on the books, stricter than the european union. most people are amazed by that because, well, wait, there aren't any gmos on the market in the e.u., and the supermarkets in the u.s. and canada are flooded with them. if the u.s. has them everywhere, our laws must be weaker. our laws are stronger. what's weaker is the will to enforce the law in the case of genetically-engineered foods. and as my book demonstrates very solidly, the food and truck administration has been violating -- food and drug administration has been violating food safety law since 1992 in order to usher genetically-engineered foods on to the market without any
requirements for any testing. but according to law, these foods should have been tested. that's the law. but, again, the law is just one of -- so one of the greatest injuries that's been caused by the g.e. food venture is the injury to scientific integrity and integrity of regulators in the u.s. and canada and many other countries. and hopefully, there won't be a great deal of human injury that results. but the laws in the e.u. were supposed to be precautionary, the e.u. was supposed to be following the precautionary principle. my book shows it has not been. and the u.s. government, our laws are strictly precautionary. every genetically-engineered food is presumed to be unsafe until demonstrated safe, and the standard of proof is very high. there has to be a demonstration of reasonable certainty of no harm. okay? you can't even factor in benefits, according to the law.
risk benefit balancing in the case of food adtives is actually contrary to law in the u.s. you do that in the case of pharmaceutical drugs, but it's inappropriate to do it in the case of food. food is over the counter. everybody eats food. it should be safe to a reasonable certainty of no harm. i'm just going into all of this because there wasn't time to bring it out in the main body of the talk, and i think it's apropos. and you should all know it. what about the herbicides that g.e. crops can tolerate but other plants cannot. well, i touched upon that briefly. one thing that i think is very important to note and many activists and many critics of g. event foods actually get, they can get misled by this, and it's -- well, first, they focus too much on the herbicides, roundup in mar, monsanto's brand of herbicide, the most widely old and used herbicide in the world.
i'm pretty sure. and monsanto, of course, has been claiming that it's completely safe, no problem. and recently, experts in europe have stated they feel it's, there's enough evidence to show it's a probable or possible human carcinogen. state of california actually has taken a similar position. monsanto can come up with other scientists who claim, no, the data doesn't show -- we don't think it's a carcinogen. there's this huge debate going on about is it or isn't it a carcinogen. listen, that whole thing is taking the eye off the ball, and that is that there has been solid research published that shows that roundup is toxic. it's a toxin. it's been demonstrated, solid toxicological studies. so even if it is not a carcinogen, it's been shown to be a toxin. it shouldn't be on the market.
and the whole debate seems to be going off into the clouds of potential carcinogenicity which is more difficult to prove, but the demonstration of toxicity has been made. it's interesting, one of the main studies was published in a peer-review journal, but because monsanto did not like it, it showed not only was the roundup administered to the rats on its own toxic, it showed the particular genetic brand of roundup-resistant corn that was being tested, if that was fed to the rats each not sprayed with roundup, it also had toxic effects. there was something bad about the corn in itself, something about the corn that wasn't good even when unsprayed and something very harmful about the roundup itself when administered to the same dose that it would have been, that would have been administered if the corn had
been eaten. that study alone should have driven roundup off the market along with that particular brand of corn and probably all the other g.e. corn. what happened? instead, through a major assault upon, basically mayor -- major assault pop the researchers and major pressure put on the editorial board of that journal, just recently it came out that monsanto was actually orchestrating that attack, getting so-called independent scientists to do its dirty work for it, but now there are memos showing monsanto's heavy hand in it. finally, after about a year of that pressure what the study was retracted. ..
ed. now, according to research guideline, if tumors develop in the course of toks -- toxic toxicicolgy study and all of a sudden the grounds for that the cancer part of the study, they didn't even mention the word cancer, they didn't try to determine if the tumors. >> cancerous, they just reported them. of course, it wasn't even a cancer study anyway and inconclusive results are not official grounds for retraction. you will find that in the guidelines for how governing retraction of articles, then --
so anyway, and then when i think the editor, the stories are all in my book, the editor had to come up with something else, but the fact remains in the media, you will see the debate is on cancer, well, this was shown not to have cancer, it did cause damage to livers and kidneys and that was a psychological study, a number of dozens and dozens experts have written articles or letters to editor explaining that that should have been retracted. by the way, the guidelines are if part of the study is invalid, even if it is unreliable, what you do is retract that part and you maintain the valid parts but they didn't do that. this is showing how science has been in order to keep a happy face on genetically engineered venture. it's really astounding.
even the new york times they talk about study that cancer study that it wasn't demonstrated and they completely ignore the evidence of toxicity which is solid and never should have been retracted. that's just a little taste. >> go ahead and answer all the questions you have. >> okay. that's something about the herbicides. any thoughts about the ge salmon, ge salmon that was okay to market this week? >> the fact that genetically engineered means again that we should presume that they are unintended side effects that occur that could be harmful. that's the default, that's default presumption that the expert panel in society report stated there should be. that sounds science. now, again with the salmon, the
focus is on a lot of other issues, environmental ones which there are, but just the fact it's been produced through genetic engineering, should be setting off major flashing red lights, there are inescapable risks, testing using feeding studies, using animals eating the fish for long-term. there probably will not be. okay. i've gone through that stack pretty much. where are the bodies? with trillions of ge meals provided over $9 billion animals, abundant results of death or illness of animals, address doctor's study from uc davis. >> well, actually it's interesting, first the question were the human bodies, i went through that. now, the study, that was done --
she's a veterinarian so they looked at really the -- the superficial analyses of the animals before they are going to be slaughtered. correct me if i'm stating anything wrong. i think it's an end note in my book. you can find a very good critique of the study gm watch, excellent critique and many scientists criticized that study. for one thing, it's not a long-term study. also those animals are being fattened up pretty quickly for market only a fairly short amount of their life span has been taken to account. also those were not the extensive kind of studies that would be done, you know, analyzing tissues under the microscope, it's fairly gross. that's my recollection of it. those are not and also they are not controlled studies.
here is one thing, if critics of genetically engineered food had brought out study that is were that weak, lack of controls, all the things i mentioned, everybody would blast it and, yet, very weak studies that purport to find safety are put through or put on pedestal like the study that has been mentioned. cows have very different digestive systems than human beings. how many do you chew cud? >> they would make very bad laboratory animal ifs we want to do toxicology tests for human beings. rats and mice are used among other things.
even if they've been doing very precise, you know, studies and really doing die -- dissections and doing studies, it still would not be compelling evidence that the foods are safe for human beings. okay. so i won't go more deeply into it. i would refer you to that critique on gm watch that summarizes many criticisms that others scientists have leveled. i answered that one. what role does purchasing monsanto play in purchasing in europe? >> it will probably create increase pressure to do it although many of the mayor -- major biotech companies in europe, there are such consumer
resistance, whether they are giving up or an opportunity to push ahead, i don't know for sure. but that -- i think we will just have to wait and see. however, the merger of byer and monsanto i think we can predict it's not a good thing for consumers and the environment. what can i as a consumer do to protect myself? >> move to norway. [laughter] >> you have to get informed. there are a lot of very good books about it. my book is not a guide of how to avoid genetically engineered foods. it should be a strong inducement to do so. there are many good guides, organic consumer association has a lot of good guides on the website. i think they try to keep that updated to give you a little
shopper's guide, institute for responsible technology, i believe, also keeps a good updated one. i assume the nongmo project, there are many good websites, center for food safety, very informative and you can download, you know, some guides as to how to shop intelligently. i highly recommend -- it's easy to get that research done online. what's difficult is to follow the advise because the food supply and the u.s. in canada is loaded with gmo's and you've got to really read labels and it's a pretty daunting thing and specially at restaurants it's even harder. so it depends on what level of rigor you want to apply in avoiding gmo's but if you really want to avoid them be rigorous. if you do have young children or grandchildren, you should be specially careful in their case because, you know, children's
physiology is in developmental stage, difficult situation, takes a lot less toxic generally to create a problem for a little child than it does for grown adult. so if you -- if you can't be fully rigorous for yourself try to make sure there's more rigor for the children and the loved ones in your life that are children. i would say that's highly, highly important. >> the nongmo project verified label, it's a voluntary thing but increasingly found on foods. that gives a pretty high level of confidence that there aren't genetically engineered ingredients, be aware many people make the mistake if that label is on it, then the product is organic, no, it means that it doesn't have gmo's but it could have had pesticides sprayed on it.
so you have to look for the organic label as well. if it's says it's usda certified organic, it should mean that it's not genetically engineered but unfortunately there doesn't have to be testing and because of the contamination through cross pollination it's possible and in fact, it's been -- it's been documented in some cases that over the generations, even organic crops have a significant amount of contamination from genetically engineered crops that are the same or similar species. so the gold standard would be, certify organic and nongmo project verified and sometimes you can get that, but i'm just stating that would probably be the gold standard in north america.
i think -- wait. are all organic foods nongmo? i kind of answered that, ideally, yes, in practice there's been significant contamination. are there any countries that do not allow ge foods to be sold -- i answered that one to the best of my ability. what about the concept that there is enough food supply to feed the global population without ge foods? >> that's more bell -- belgone. in 2008 a major study was released, cosponsored by the world bank, world bank and four united nations agencies, hundreds of scientific experts in numerous countries around the world participated in it and
agriculture technology in food and went on for a long time and when results were published, they made it very clear. they examined, one to have questions was what role should or could genetic engineering play and they concluded genetic engineering does not have a significant role to play in meeting the world's future nutritional needs for the foreseeable future and at a press conference, press conference announcing the study, the director of the study was asked point-blank so do you see any role at all for genetically engineered foods and he said, no, well, the frank answer is no . and there have been other
studies and studies made by un for food reviewing, reviewing many projects in sub-saharan africa showing tremendous results, results that are better than any genetically engineered food that's been able to achieve, so the -- so what the what the major study for solution, they call them agri ecological techniques without industrial inputs and without synthetic fertilizers or synthetic herbicides, without gmo's and with greater intelligence. many traditional societies have actually lost a lot of traditional knowledge or they didn't have good enough knowledge in some cases and a little bit of -- there's a lot
of experimenting in different ecological niches. if the industrial methods come in, then usually small farnls have to consolidate so they emphasized small independentant farms using techniques, they've been shown to be actually the most efficient and productive. you can produce more nutrition per acre if you're doing it that way than with the big industrialized farms. what the big industrialized farms are good at are producing mono crops, one uniformed crop planted in massive amount of acres, they are more efficient producing more per acre because the smaller farms, they don't do the mono-cropping.
, again, we do not need is genetic engineering. what we need is a small amount of massive research that's been directed to genetic engineering since genetically-engineered foods started being developed in the early 80's. there would be better knowledge produced in third-world because very little money given to organic, it's really a shame. that's the case so there should be diversion of funds. you know, he is is the richest man in the world, used to be.
he now, i guess, he with other people, he's one of the richest people, his wealth has come from software development and yet he is using a significant part of that substantial massive fortune to fund a technology that is violating the basic principles of software development. i mean, it's one of the most ironic of the -- ironic situations and many ironies in ge venture. i think that's the biggest one. bill and melinda gates would read my books, there would be huge turn-arounds, their intentions are good, they are hoping to do good for the third world but they have been listening to scientists who have been misinforming them. if they were to learn the facts and specially to examine genetic engineering from the standpoint of software engineering, i think there would be a major eureka experience and i think that they would probably speak out too. bill gates, they are both bright
speaker. so i'm saying -- who knows, maybe some of you have a contact, tell him to read my book. i think that would have one of the greatest, greatest turn-arounds in the history of agriculture. any other -- wait. i should just look -- where are we now the with the legal process against monsanto? >> well, there's at least one if not more lawsuits underway monsanto that information that i said came out of files that showed how monsanto was orchestrating most of the attack against the study that was retracted eventually. by the way, because that -- because the study was solid, solid toxicologic study,
basically dismissed the story as being retracted. they didn't even tell people that it had been republished. that's the kind of unethical behavior being practiced fbi world's most preto the best of my-- prestigious scientist organization . that's specifically against that. maybe other lawsuits, i'm not aware of that. my main focus is to get the facts out. there's an ancient script saying of which i'm very bond. truth ultimately try yumps, it may be old fashion on my part but i still firmly believe that. it may take a lot longer than we like, certainly agonizing longer than i would like but eventually the truth with try yusm, there's
only so long that the proponents and all the fact that is i've shared with you and many more facts are in my book and some very good books on the topic, one of which i should mention, excellent book. it doesn't give the history, won't give the computer science but my book and that book complement each other because it goes into the research even more thoroughly than mine. mine would be longer than it is but too dry but do i go into the research a lot. if you could only read two books, if you could only read one, i'm not going to try to -- you flip a coin or whatever. what kind of necessary for tomato to market, first not continued to be allowed by researchers that are hired by the industry.
it's been shown too often that that leads to fraud and even if it doesn't lead to fraud, studies have shown that independent researchers look at the data, they are much more likely to find problems than if the researcher hired by the company do. that should be a major change throughout really testing on any chemicals, industrial chemicals, food additives, get the public sector out of it. i'm not sure the best way. making people pay and have the government, you know, hire people to do the testing, double-blind they don't even know whether they've got -- whose one they had and keep it all double blind and all the results have to be completely reported when the testing is under the control of the private corporations, if they don't like
the results, they just don't publish them and they usually have the -- have the researchers sign an agreement that they don't have the right to basically publish it. all the decisions are made by the monsantos, duponts, whoever. if you're not published the negative results, you know, that's not science and, of course, as i mentioned, even some of the studies had been published that had negative result that is were overlooked and were only discovered when independent teams reviewed them. that's one of the important things, also as my book demonstrates as i mention this evening or i hope i made it clear, there would have to be at least the same kind of testing, rigorous long-term testing, culminating in human clinical trials in the case of gmo's in the case of pharmaceutical drugs. it should probably be even stricter.
even that would completely down the industry because if you think about it, that level of extensive testing is es -- enabled because drug companies can take out patents and for so many years that the drug is on the market they have a patent on it and they can charge pretty high prices before it goes generic, there's only so much you can charge for a soybean or ear of corn. there's a natural economic constraint in the case of the food industry on how long an extensive the testing can be and so really there is no way for the genetically engineered food venture to be scientifically reliable and yet economically viable. okay, cannot be economic liable and cannot be viable. again, that's why the industry fights so hard to have minimal testing and tries to -- and
attacks so viciously any research that, again, indicates there should be stronger testing because it will be very expensive and they don't want it. is wheat a gmo crop? >> to the best of our knowledge, right now it is not a gmo marketed crop. it's been experimented in the lab. there have been -- it came close to being rolled out, i think at least once if not twice. my understanding is there's pressure to get it out unless it's test fields which may have happened, it is not an officially market genetically i thinked crop now and let's all have our attention on it never becoming one. given the gmo crops drift under conventional crops, how do we know they don't drift onto certified organic crops. we know that they have. there have been shipments of canola that were certified organic canola seeds from canada
to europe that were test there had and found to have significant level of contamination from genetically engineered canola, those were rejected and sent back. so we know that that can happen. that's not on topic. many people would think that it is healthier, many would give arguments that it's not. i myself am a vegetarian but i'm not an expert on this. i just know i like to eat that way but i have many friends who are very healthy and very health conscious that eat meat. very careful and for them it works, everybody should study, people have different nutritional needs but i think one thing is clear. the current industrial system of
raising meat is very wrong and harmful to the animals, feeding operations are sinful actually. they really are creating, torturing the animals in many ways and the animals live in constant stress. they are not able to live out lives at animals and it's really wrong, they are treated as units of production, so to the extent that animals are raised for slaughter, they should be raised in humane way and that means fundamental change has to be made throughout most modern systems of industrialized agriculture. and if the animals are raised humanely it is going to drive up the costs an it means people will be eating less meat but that was the way it used to be. chicken used to be a lot more expensive, beef was more expensive. it's become what cheaper now but at what cost to the environment, potentially human health cost
and certainly cost, i think, to the human soul because of the way in which those animals, and they are being treat sod care -- carelessly. for those who believe in sin, if you don't, it's very wrong. when i say sin, it's really wrong and they should consider the pain to which they are subjecting those animals. it's very, very wrong. how does monsanto play into this? i think we have discussed it in a very dirty way. where are we now with the -- that was read. did i miss something? >> i am bill grant, we thank steven for comments here today. we thank our audience here as well as those listening
recording, now the meeting commemorating 114 years of enlightened discussion is adjourned. [applause] >> a bow for the cameras. >> thank you very much. you've been a great audience. i appreciate it. those are also very good questions and everybody stayed very attentive and i appreciate it. i appreciate it. >> the book for sale in the lobby and he will sign them in the lobby. [inaudible conversations]
>> c-span where mystery unfolds daily, in 1979 c-span was created as public service by america's cable television companies and brought to you today by your cable or satellite provider. >> good afternoon, unlike any presentation like this, there's a few admin introductions. if there's time at the end, they'll be questions and answers and if you please go to the mic and cue up i would appreciate it. hi, i'm karen lloyd. .. ..